Learning to Love Spontaneity. That’s what I’d call this sweetcorn fry up, if I wanted to. Or maybe, Having A Go at Simple. Although it’s not entirely ‘simple’, so to speak. I appreciate simple; iridescent emerald and gold olive oil on plain tangy sourdough, or nutty Manchego with ripe pears, say. But in this sense the complexity’s still there in the level of quality or, in this case, in the transformation of a familiar ingredient into something brilliantly denatured. Still, I understand. I do. Proficiency isn’t always measured by the number of hoops you jump (and who wants to jump hoops anyway; like a pet doing tricks?). No, I’ve come to realise that, in order to make something to look effortless, more often than not, little effort is actually put in. Too much slogging away and you’ll miss the mark. I guess I’m no longer talking about food.
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My culinary endeavours have proved this just as much as any other facet in the diamond that is life. Classical dance did not want my body and, in truth, my body has fought classical ballet back. Years passed with me adhering to the belief that, to reach maximum output, I had to reach the point at which a drop more effort would kill me. Now I know better; there’a a difference between pushing yourself to the limit for someone else’s attention and pushing yourself to the limit for yourself.
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In any case, the honouring of simplicity is goddam hard. Moving in a straight line without any unnecessary, energy-wasting detours is a precious skill. So now I could be describing anything from classical technique to friendships. Or food, of course.
So, back to that; sometimes I try to minimise, believe it or not. I remove rather than add. I focus on a singular unembellished flavour with minimal distractions. To be fair, I’m often forced into these situations due to restrictions the likes of time, what’s in the shop, etc. but that’s where the spontaneity part comes in and how I’ve discovered its merits. Consequently, I’ve established this as my intention when coping with life.
Sweetcorn Fry Up with Crispy Herb and Peanut Butter Dressing
This is a perfect example of spontaneity Tala-style; I spent all day dreaming of grated courgette, marinated in a little lemon juice, red wine vinegar and tahini only to discover the supermarket was sparsely stocked with mixed herbs and coriander, as opposed to my desired large bunch of parsley, plus, good luck finding tahini at the corner shop in Astrakhan, Southern Russia. I did a swerve and ended up with this comforting fry up; it’s super with crispy fried eggs.
2 tins sweetcorn
100g mixed fresh herbs (whichever are most readily available or your favourites), chopped
125ml olive oil
1/2 tsp savoury chilli paste (I love adjika, a Georgian chilli paste I’ve discovered while living in Russia)
2 heaped tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch of nutmeg
Fry herbs in a pan with oil, spices (except black pepper) and chilli paste over high heat for 10 mins until the leaves are crispy.
Transfer to a deep bowl to cool (oil included) and turn the pan to medium high heat. Char the sweetcorn in two batches by filling the pan with a layer of kernels and waiting a minute or so. Stir the sweetcorn, leave for a further minute, then add to the herb bowl and mix.
Stir in peanut butter and black pepper.